Browsing Tag

les charbonniers de l’enfer

Quebecois Music

Lessons in French lyrics

It’s probably not an academically approved way to learn a language, and the ultimate result will probably not be a working vocabulary I can use in everyday conversation, but I gotta say: it’s great fun trying to translate Quebecois trad lyrics word by word and phrase by phrase. It’s like the songs are in CODE, and I have to break the code!

And so far I have learned the following things:

One, like most Celtic music, Quebecois trad falls into the three general categories of Whiskey, Sex, and Death. And many songs will fall into all of these categories at once.

Two, there are a surprisingly large number of ducks in these songs. This is not so strange in a song about hunting, but in a song about a wedding night?! I pointed userinfoeeyorerin at the Charbonniers’ “Lundi Mardi Jour de Mai“, and she explained it was a song about a wedding, and then promptly went “buh?!” when she realized the happy couple had ducks right next to their bed. Quackez-vous, baby! Quackez-vous.

Three, French makes even not-work-safe phrases like ‘va te faire’ sound awesome in front of a 69-piece orchestra. Look it up, Internets! And then just imagine the English equivalent in front of an orchestra!

Four, some tiny bits of vocabulary I haven’t hung out with since college are suddenly trying to get back in touch. Why hello there, pronouns! How’s it going, conjugation of être? And you guys have brought me a few more verbs, too! How nice of you!

And now, Internets, I give you a sampling of critical verbs I am picking up from my study of the lyrics of Le Vent du Nord, Les Charbonniers de l’Enfer, and La Volée de Castors!

  • être: to be
  • avoir: to have
  • tuer: to kill (useful for all songs in the Death category)
  • aimer: to love (category Sex)
  • boire: to drink (category Whiskey)
  • jouer: to play
  • chanter: to sing
  • danser: to dance

So yeah. I’m still at the point of most of these lyrics parsing in my brain as ‘blah blah blah’ (only prettier than that, because, y’know, French), but comprehendible phrases are starting to pop out at me. Like ‘rejoindre mon bataillon’, or ‘ouvrez, ouvrez la porte, mon père, si vous m’aimez’.

(Which is also in a fun song about a girl who apparently thinks nothing of freeloading off a young captain who takes her to a fancy hotel in Paris and wines and dines her. And she fakes her own death, and after three days begs her father to let her out of the tomb.

Either that, or else she’s a zombie. I’m not sure which!)

So yeah. Maybe not a working vocabulary, but if you need somebody to sing about what an asshole the son of the king is for shooting a shepherdess’ white ducks? I’ll be your girl!

Quebecois Music

More music geekery

And now, in no particular order, some more points of general geekery regarding my ongoing passion for Quebecois music:

One: this morning, I stomped all over 375 calories on the treadmill while listening to Les Charbonniers de l’Enfer’s live album. They made for excellent workout music, and I feel I should get calorie bonuses for trying to sing along with “Les turluttes”, even if I couldn’t keep up in the middle part where they’re all singing together rather than doing call and response. Hell, I have trouble keeping up with that part when I’m not on the treadmill; the operative phrase there is “breath control”!

Two: I am amusing myself transcribing lyrics out of the liner notes of Le sort des amoureux, the Beaudrys’ album, on the theory that if I have them in a file on my phone, I can read along when I’m listening on my commute, and improve my ability to understand these lyrics as words. However, as I type all these French words into TextEdit on my MacBook, I’m discovering a couple of things. One, TextEdit’s spellcheck is doing amazingly well with French words, and two, I’m actually understanding some of these phrases without having to throw them through Google’s translation engine first! More or less, anyway. I am pretty sure I just figured out that this one verse is a mother telling her children they don’t have a father anymore.

Three: Speaking of lyrics, I’ve been looking through the English translations available for Le Vent songs up on their site, and about died laughing when I realized what “Les métiers” is actually about: a girl with multiple lovers, and why their occupations all suck. Except for the fiddler. Of whom she says, “he shall practice on me / he can play the fiddle, I’ll be making music”.

And here I’d gone and added that song to my Francophone Favorites and Le Vent Favorites playlists on the strength of its sweet and perky-sounding performance alone. I had NO IDEA. Lesson learned: Le Vent are apparently periodically quite a bit more bawdy than they actually sound. WOO! ;>

Four: The Le Vent Symphonique album is growing on me hard. I’m finding the blend of the band’s instruments and the orchestra more awesome each time I listen to various tracks, and while I still want to be in a crowd doing “Cre-mardi”, I’m nonetheless seriously grooving on the energy of the orchestra behind the band in that song in particular. I also happened to observe that a few video snippets of this performance are actually on Le Vent’s site, here, and WHOA AND DAMN I wish there was a DVD of this. I would be buying the HELL out of that.

Also, it is amusing to play Spot the Piccolo in the various tracks as well! Piccolo players, represent!

And last but not least, speaking of my piccolo: I am now also amusing myself trying to transcribe M. Demers’ fiddle solo from “Lanlaire”. I wanted to do this just by way of exercising my ear. Last night, though, I found a very nifty little app for the iThings–a thing called Tempo. You can use it to play with the tempo of a track out of your iTunes library, and slow it down without losing pitch. Which is AWESOME. I kicked “Lanlaire” down to about 70 percent speed, and am now trying to inch my way through the fiddle solo to see if I can better figure out the notes that way.

Some sound quality is lost, but the pitch is still on target, and it’s very odd hearing the song that slow, especially the footwork! But I’ll have great fun trying to see if this app can help me figure out the solo. \0/

Quebecois Music

Too much awesome for one band alone

All this starts, as many things musical do for me, with Great Big Sea! As I’ve mentioned, the first time I saw GBS perform, La Bottine Souriante was part of that show. At the time they were nine members strong, and I was almost as blown away by them as I was by GBS.

Also from GBS, I get to La Volée d’Castors. I found them thanks to a thread along the theme of “if you like Great Big Sea, you’ll also like ” on the OKP, though it took me some time to actually do anything about it–i.e., to find their music, see if I liked it, and actually buy it! I’m just sorry I didn’t find them sooner. 😀

From LVC I get to Le Vent du Nord, because I found Le Vent buying LVC albums on iTunes. LVN popped up in the list of ‘people who bought this also bought’ albums. It turns out also that Réjean Brunet, current member of Le Vent, also used to be in LVC!

Les Charbonniers de l’Enfer I also discovered on iTunes when I started buying LVC and LVN albums. Again, it took me a bit to actually decide to buy their stuff–but I decided this was clearly Important when I read their web page and discovered a) they’re an a cappella group, and b) two of their members are former La Bottine Souriante guys! One of them in particular, Michel Bordeleau, was in La Bottine when I saw them perform in 2000.

De Temps Antan and Galant, Tu Perds Ton Temps are my most recent acquisitions, thanks to M Kenney, who’s dropped me several comments on the topic! De Temps Antan are connected both to La Bottine Souriante AND to Le Vent du Nord, since all three guys in De Temps are either current or former La Bottine members–and Éric Beaudry is of course the brother of Simon, over in Le Vent.

The Beaudry boys are connected back to the Charbonniers, since André Marchand, current Charbonniers member, produced their album Le sort des amoureux for them.

The Galant girls are also connected to LVN, since M Kenney informs me that they, Le Vent, and the Charbonniers have all performed together, doing a song called “Diable et le Fermier”, written by Nicolas Boulerice of Le Vent. Here it is, on YouTube:

Long story short, clearly all the best bands in Quebec are tied together in one great big web of AWESOME. I love that! And I’ll be amused to see how many more ways I can find to tie all these groups together, and if there are other groups in the web as well!

Quebecois Music

Dangerous Podorythmie is my Les Charbonniers de l’Enfer cover band

Hey, look what I found! Video clips of the Les Charbonniers de l’Enfer concert, from the album I was posting about before! \0/

This one is “Yes Very Well”, the second part of Track 10 on En personne, where it suddenly turns into an entirely different and MUCH MORE LIVELY song. The gent singing lead on this is roaring out those lyrics, and now that I can see he’s a skinny rake of a dude, I’m all the more impressed by the force of his voice! It’s this specific song that, the first time I listened to the album this past weekend, made me go HOLY CRAP, they are much, MUCH better live than in the studio, and they don’t suck in the studio.

And this one, right here? This is what I mean when I say that there’s just something absolutely pure and primal about Quebecois mouth reels and podorythmie, making music with nothing more than your mouth and feet. That video is “Les Turlutes”, track 16 on the album! Look for the podorythmie stomp-off about three minutes in.

And now I can tell that one of their podorythmie guys must be one of the two of them who used to be in La Bottine Souriante. I am almost certain that the guy in the left-hand chair (left from the viewer perspective) is the one who was singing lead when La Bottine Souriante performed at Chateau Ste. Michelle back in 2000, the first time I ever saw Great Big Sea in concert. So he’s either Michel Bordeleau or André Marchand. Either way, he TOTALLY pwns the guy in the other chair, in the stomp-off in the second video.

Some brief audience reaction shots in the second vid, too, show that the audience is clearly getting into it, and there’s a bit of Quebecois-style vertical movement going on there. Or given that this is Quebecois music, maybe le mouvement vertical! I very, very much want to see these gentlemen perform in person now. I may fangirl all over Great Big Sea and Le Vent du Nord for having pretty pretty bouzouki players, but if you’re bringing it hard enough? You don’t have to be pretty.

And these gentlemen are bringing the HELL out of it. Well done, messieurs! XD

ETA: More videos! Sur la Vignelon, again from the same live concert. And also, Au Diable Les Avocats, which appears to be their official video for this particular song.

ETA #2: A bit of judicious Googling has educated me that in fact, both of the podorythmie guys in LCE are the former La Bottine Souriante members! And, in fact, the guy in the left-hand chair has got to be Michel Bordeleau, since from what I’m seeing on the French Wikipedia page for the group, André Marchand was no longer in the group by the time I saw them perform. Plus, that’s clearly Michel’s voice in “YoYo Verret”, the track I love the most off the old LBS album Rock and Reel, a.k.a. Xième! He’s also the one described on LCE’s current site as having “dangerous podorythmia” and they are NOT LYING. \0/

Quebecois Music

Motherlode of Quebecois musical awesome!

This being another post actually written while I was on hiatus, but I wanted to get it down while it was fresh in my mind!

So as y’all know I have become very fond of Quebecois music, and I have no fewer than four bands I’m following: La Bottine Souriante, Le Vent du Nord, La Volee d’Castors, and Les Charbonniers de L’enfer. This last group are the ones who are entirely a capella, specializing in the mouth reels and podorythmie that I love so much about music from Quebec, and they ALSO have two guys who used to be in La Bottine Souriante, so a couple of their voices sound very familiar to me.

I’ve snagged their one live album off of iTunes, and I’m tellin’ ya, people, they are way better live than I expected after listening to their first two albums I’d bought! They are so much more vigorous in live performance that I was entirely blown away by several of the tracks. They have a couple on this album where they’re roaring out the lyrics–or in the case of one track, tearing through the mouth reels at unbelievable speed. And, AND, if my poking around on Google and on their website is any indication, they have two guys doing the podorythmie, not just one.

The album is called En personne, and for those of you with iTunes accounts, I highly recommend checking it out. For those of you not iTunes-inclined, I was also able to find this site here which appears to be for a chain store in Quebec. They can’t sell MP3 downloads to customers outside Canada due to copyright restrictions, but they DO have listenable samples–and they will ship CDs to US customers. Their page for the album in question is here–AND there’s ALSO a DVD!

Check out the samples for tracks 4, 10, 13, and 16 in particular, wherever you check it out. iTunes has longer samples than the Archambault site does, enough to give you a feel for how LCE sound live, though the really good bits of tracks 4 and 10 are towards the end so you may not get those in the samples. Track 16 is ALL mouth reels though and goddamn, it is awesome. XD

I am totally ordering this thing on my next paycheck. I have got to see the video that goes with this concert, especially if they have two guys on the footwork.

AND AND AND they also have a boatload of La Bottine Souriante albums I’m going to be ordering–five of ’em I’m missing, and I’m particularly interested in the more recent ones since LBS have had a significant shift in members over the last few years, so now they sound rather different than they did when I saw them perform way back in 2000 along with GBS at Chateau Ste. Michelle. What particularly amuses me, now that I’m actively fangirling Le Vent du Nord, is that the lovely Monsieur Simon Beaudry has a brother who’s in La Bottine Souriante now! ;D

And speaking of Le Vent du Nord, that site also has the one remaining LVN album I don’t have yet–a recording of a live concert they did along with the Quebec Symphony Orchestra, which was apparently not widely released, since it’s not on iTunes along with the rest of LVN’s albums. I am totally ordering this, too.

I really need a proper icon for Quebecois music now! Stompyfeet, that’d be the ticket. 😀